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Nikki Haley vows to stay in race, ramping up attacks on Trump

Nikki Haley, the last Republican challenger to Donald Trump, vowed to stay in the race for the GOP nomination Tuesday, saying she feels “no need to kiss the ring.” 

The former ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina said during a campaign stop in Greenville that she’s “far from” dropping out of the race, regardless of an expected primary loss in her home state on Saturday. She said she would campaign “until the last person votes,” noting that only four states will have held their primary contests by Saturday. 

“Dropping out would be the easy route,” she said. “I’ve been the underdog in every race I’ve ever run. I’ve always been David taking on Goliath. And like David, I’m not just fighting someone bigger than me. I’m fighting for something bigger than myself.” 

Haley’s home turf hasn’t translated into an advantage for her in the polls. Nearly two-thirds, 65%, of likely GOP primary voters said in a recent CBS News poll that they’d vote for Trump, with Haley trailing at 30%. 

Haley acknowledged the growing calls for her to drop out and her low polling against Trump, but argued that Trump has only secured high-profile endorsements because fellow Republicans fear him. A number of South Carolina Republicans, including Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Nancy Mace, whose careers were once helped by Haley’s support, are backing Trump. 

“Many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump privately dread him,” she said. “They know what a disaster he’s been and will continue to be for our party. They’re just too afraid to say it out loud. Well, I’m not afraid to say the hard truths out loud.” 

Haley escalated her attacks on the former president, saying she has “no fear of Trump’s retribution,” isn’t jockeying to be his vice president and that her “political future is of zero concern.” 

“He’s gotten more unstable and unhinged. He spends more time in courtrooms than he does on the campaign trail. He refuses to debate. He’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his own demons from the past. He can’t focus on delivering a future Americans deserve,” Haley said. 

“He’s taking out his anger on others. He’s getting meaner and more offensive by the day. He’s trying to bully me and anyone who supports me. He says they’ll be barred from MAGA permanently. That’s not the way you win elections,” she added. 

Before Haley’s speech, Trump’s campaign predicted “the end is near for Nikki Haley” in a memo sent to the press. The campaign characterized Haley as a “wailing loser hell-bent on an alternative reality.” 

While campaigning in the state earlier this month, Trump attacked Haley by mocking the absence of her husband, who is deployed with the South Carolina Army National Guard in Africa. 

Haley became emotional Tuesday while talking about her husband. 

“As I prepare for what lies ahead, Michael is at the forefront of my mind,” she said, tearing up. “I wish Michael was here today, and I wish our children and I could see him tonight. But we can’t.” 

Olivia Rinaldi contributed reporting. 

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